Heavy rains kill seven in Georgia

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:27 PM GMT on September 22, 2009

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Very heavy rains exceeding fifteen inches have soaked the Atlanta, Georgia region over the past two days, triggering widespread major flooding. Record flood levels have been observed on seven rivers and creeks in the Atlanta area, breaking records that had been set as long ago as 1919. In one case, the new flood record (for Utoy Creek near Atlanta), was more that ten feet above the previous record, with the creek still rising. The Chattahoochee River was one of the rivers that rose to record levels, and flood waters from the Chattahoochee crested over the I-285 bridge in western Atlanta, forcing closure of the expressway. At least seven people have been killed, according to ajc.com, with at least six people still missing.


Figure 1. Radar estimated rainfall for the Atlanta, Georgia region ending on September 22. More than 15 inches (white colors) had fallen in and around Atlanta.

A list of the records set so far:

Noonday Creek near Woodstock 19.66 ft 21/530 PM, old record 16.30 ft (07/11/2005)

Nickajack Creek at Mableton 19.30 ft 22/215 am, old record 16.60 ft (07/11/2005)

North Fork Peachtree Creek at Atlanta 18.07 ft 21/715 PM, old record 17.70 ft (09/16/2004)

Utoy Creek near Atlanta 27.04 ft 22/715 am, old record 16.86 ft (05/06/2003)...still rising

Chattahoochee River at Whitesburg 29.58 ft 21/1015 PM, old record 29.11 ft (12/11/1919)

Suwanee Creek at Suwanee 14.30 ft 21/645 PM, old record 12.04 ft (10/05/1996)

Yellow River at Lithonia 25.50 ft 22/515 am, old record 17.53 ft (05/07/2003)... nearly steady

Yellow River near Conyers 20.80 ft 22/730 am, old record 16.36 ft (07/08/2005) below Milstead...still rising

Chattahoochee River at Franklin 28.71 ft 22/715 am, old record 28.40 ft (12/15/1919)...still rising

The strong flow of moist air from the southeast that fueled the heavy rains has diminished today, and no widespread heavy rains will affect northern Georgia over the next few days. However, there will be some scattered thunderstorms in the region the next two days that will dump heavy downpours over local areas, and these thunderstorms will keep flood waters from receding much along some flooded rivers and creeks. It is possible that some additional moisture from the remains of Hurricane Fred will affect northern Georgia and South Carolina Wednesday and Thursday, boosting rainfall totals from these scattered thunderstorms.


Figure 2. AVHRR visible satellite image of Hurricane Hugo taken on September 22, 1989. Hugo was over Ohio at this time, and had finally been declared extratropical.

Twenty years ago today
Hurricane Hugo plowed through the center of South Carolina on September 22, 1989, reaching the North Carolina border 140 miles inland by 8am EDT. Amazingly, Hugo remained at hurricane strength for its entire passage through South Carolina--a full eight hours. The hurricane caused massive damage to forests, buildings, and power lines along the way, killing thirteen South Carolinans in total. Charlotte, North Carolina, over 200 miles inland, and a place of refuge for many South Carolinans that fled the storm, received sustained winds of 69 mph from Hugo--just below the 74-mph threshold of hurricane strength. Hugo turned northwards and roared through Virginia, where it killed six people, then into West Virginia and Ohio, where it was finally declared extratropical at 2pm EDT on the 22nd. The hurricane claimed its final victim near Buffalo, New York, when winds from Hugo toppled a tree onto a motorist.

In all, Hugo did $7 billion in damage to the continental U.S., and $10 billion over its entire path ($17.6 billion in 2009 dollars), making it the most costly hurricane ever at that time. The final death toll was 56.


Figure 3. Maximum wind gusts recorded from Hurricane Hugo of 1989. Wind gusts in excess of 80 mph (green hatched areas) were recorded all the way to the North Carolina border, 140 miles inland. Image credit: National Hurricane Center.

There are no threat areas in the Atlantic to discuss today, and none of our reliable computer models are forecasting tropical storm development over the next seven days.

Jeff Masters

Suwanee Creek Greenway flooding (takabanana)
Suwanee Creek Greenway flooding

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Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26516
Quoting Tazmanian:
in my books hurricane season is done


You might be right.. but I don't think so. There is to much stored up energy in the GOM.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26516
in my books hurricane season is done
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Quoting leftovers:
my son pitched for merritt island mustangs he got 2 letters. swear some of his competitors were juiced up get well


Trust me when i say steriods was very commonly used item in the 80's & 90's! More so in the 90's as it really exploded. Funny how most just don't talk about it. I fear all the people who has taken it, what it will do to them in the future. I know what it has done to me.....and it is not any fun.
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Quoting hurricane23:
Usually during el nino years the Caribbean for the most part is shut down.


thank you well said
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Quoting hurricane23:


The total shut down of the caribbean this season in my view is in responce to the moderate nino currently in place which i might add should contiune to intensify and peak in the coming months.



thank you thank you thank you 23
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September 21, 2009
What's Different This 2009 Hurricane Season? Dr. Steve Lyons, Tropical Weather Expert
I lot of people have asked me why the hurricane season has been so quiet thus far in 2009. Most ask with their own answer included, namely, water temperatures must be pretty cold out there this year. That is NOT the reason, water temperatures are nearly everywhere warmer than average across the tropical Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico!

The "primary" answer, in my opinion, is found high up at around 35-45,000 feet in the upper portion of our tropical weather atmosphere. It is relatively simple to explain, but not to forecast! You see if we look at an average weather pattern in the upper atmosphere across the Atlantic, we find 3 primary features; the "Subtropical Ridge", the "Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough" (TUTT) and the "Subequatorial Ridge." These features move north, south, east or west in tandem with each other partly in response to mid-latitude west winds dancing in various directions. I show the average tropical upper atmosphere weather features in Figure 1.


FIGURE 1. Average position of upper level weather features in summer/early fall across the tropical and subtropical Atlantic. Black: non-tropical west winds. Yellow:Subtropical Ridge. Red: Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough (TUTT). Green: Subequatorial Ridge

These three features are very important for hurricane formation, or lack of it. The Subtropical Ridge does usually have weak winds along its axis (one requirement for hurricane development) and hence is a low wind shear zone, but it is also associated with sinking air and is not typically favorable for hurricane development because it does not let disturbances "breathe" very well. The elongated TUTT, always found south of the Subtropical Ridge axis, often has strong upper lows embedded in it that do not favor hurricane development and the south side of the TUTT axis normally has strong west or southwest winds, thus causing high wind shear that is not favorable for hurricane development. The Subequatorial Ridge axis, always found south of the TUTT axis, does favor hurricane development because: 1) it has light winds along it's axis and hence low wind shear, and 2) it is a ventilating axis of high pressure that favors rain and thunderstorm development and hence also favors hurricane development and strengthening. It allows hurricanes to spin up and get strong enough to blast through less favorable upper winds in other locations once it leaves the Subequatorial Ridge axis.

This 2009 hurricane season, we have a very anomalous upper level pattern (Figure 2); the three primary upper level features are displaced well south of average. Partly because mid-latitude west winds are shifted south across the eastern U.S. and western Atlantic, those west winds have displaced the Subtropical Ridge to the south. The TUTT, south of the Subtropical Ridge, is correspondingly shifted south and the Subequatorial Ridge, normally south of the TUTT has been shifted so far south it has either been over northern South America or has been completely missing, yes, missing other than in a transient form, except in the eastern Atlantic Ocean near Africa this year.


Figure 2. As in Figure 1, except for summer/earlyfall 2009

The result is that so far in hurricane season 2009, most of the central and western Atlantic Ocean has been dominated by either sinking air from the Subtropical Ridge or fast winds west or southwest winds associated with the TUTT. The result is fewer hurricanes, more short-lived hurricanes and none that have made it west of 70W longitude.

There are at least three possible reasons for this unusual upper-air pattern, some or all of which may be to blame this 2009 hurricane season:

1) Unusual non-tropical weather that includes a southward extension of non-tropical west winds that have pushed our three important tropical upper-level weather features well south of normal and made it less favorable for hurricane development

2) El Nino, which usually causes a strong Subequatorial Ridge over the east and central Pacific and causes the Atlantic Subequatorial Ridge to be weak, displaced south and east of normal or missing completely

3) Below average showers and thunderstorms over southern Central America and northern South America that have not been able to form or maintain a significant Subequatorial Ridge because there is not enough heating from thunderstorms to make one or keep one in place

It appears that all three of these may be the cause for our lack of a Subequatorial Ridge during hurricane season 2009! It is not over yet, but it appears that hurricane development may be a serendipitous event for the remainder of the fall, at least in the western Atlantic where our Subequatorial Ridge is missing.
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
Usually during el nino years the Caribbean for the most part is shut down.
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I am surprised the blog survives this feb er um I mean September.

What will we talk about in February? The great snow storm of 2010?

Not exactly tropical but...at least its not political or religious, unless we say the snow storm is a result of Man Made Global Cooling caused by Al gore being quiet.?
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Quoting TheCaneWhisperer:


Taz, all due respect but, this El Nino is very weak. We've experienced 0 of the traditional effects of El Nino in SFL this summer. There haven't been any disturbances in the Caribbean thus far because they have all been re-curving.


The total shut down of the caribbean this season in my view is in responce to the moderate nino currently in place which i might add should contiune to intensify and peak in the coming months.
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Tampa..hope you feel better.
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Most of the year,the troughs have been in our area,so if this holds into the winter,its going to be a mighty cold winter up here and look out along the east coast.
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Alright guys, time to head to class, ill be back around ten thirty, see ya :)
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8418
when I feel sick I usually take 1 vitamin c and echenecia. Works many a time just gotta take it within a couple of hours of getting sick, hit em while they are weak!!!
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3992
Quoting ElConando:


Just got an A on a intro to public policy test :P. Hopefully the A's are coming your way too.


thats good to hear, and I think they are, kind of struggling a bit in my math, but it will work out
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8418
Quoting TheCaneWhisperer:


I haven't had the full blown flu since I was 12. I am 33 now and hoping to pass another year by without it. I've never gotten a flu shot before and am resisting the pushing from my wife to get one this year, I don't know what to do.


I have a very depleted immune system. I did steriods when i played baseball and now have CMV because of it. Trust me, those that say that steriods is no big deal are not telling the truth or simply don't know. I can tell you all first hand.
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Anyone up for a ride?



Six Flags Over Georgia

but on a serious note, my heart goes out those who have suffered during this flooding
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8418
Quoting tornadodude:


and if this pattern continues, then we are in for a rough winter in much of the eastern half of the country.



nice to "see" you too :P classes have been alright so far, just hanging in there, have a good day!


Just got an A on a intro to public policy test :P. Hopefully the A's are coming your way too.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3992
Oh, one more quick comment b4 I go to phone. Thnx. re responses, and

TampaSpin: Do u know yet if your flu is H1N1 or seasonal flu? I think I'd best get shots; take my chances. Usually just get sore arm, hope new swine flu shots don't make people sick.

Hope u get over flu soonest.
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Quoting TampaSpin:


Big snow for the NORTH East this winter if that would hold true.


Yeah, no doubt. Hopefully some here in northern Indiana too haha
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8418
Quoting tornadodude:


and if this pattern continues, then we are in for a rough winter in much of the eastern half of the country.



nice to "see" you too :P classes have been alright so far, just hanging in there, have a good day!


Big snow for the NORTH East this winter if that would hold true.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
I don't know if any of you all have had the flu yet but, wow has it knocked me for a loop...I have been sick since last Friday. High fever and chest congestion.


I haven't had the full blown flu since I was 12. I am 33 now and hoping to pass another year by without it. I've never gotten a flu shot before and am resisting the pushing from my wife to get one this year, I don't know what to do.
Quoting TheCaneWhisperer:
Personally, I think the odd jet stream patterns have played more of a role in the shear department this season, not the El Nino.


and if this pattern continues, then we are in for a rough winter in much of the eastern half of the country.

Quoting AwakeInMaryland:
Oh, I spoke too soon re "killing" the blog.
Good morning, TornadoD-, nice to "see" you. Thanks for the response, hope classes are going well. I guess I have to call RCN, our cable provider. I know TWC isn't great -- it has been SO Atlanta-centric these last few days. Would like to know about flooding elsewhere!

Off to sit on hold w/RCN. Take care all.



nice to "see" you too :P classes have been alright so far, just hanging in there, have a good day!
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8418
Quoting TheCaneWhisperer:
Personally, I think the odd jet stream patterns have played more of a role in the shear department this season, not the El Nino.


LOL......don't mean to laugh but, El Nino is part of the controlling mechanism of the Jet Stream.
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Quoting TampaSpin:
I don't know if any of you all have had the flu yet but, wow has it knocked me for a loop...I have been sick since last Friday. High fever and chest congestion.


I havent yet, actually, Ive never had the flu, hope you get to feeling better soon!

Scottsdale Dust Storm
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8418
Oh, I spoke too soon re "killing" the blog.
Good morning, TornadoD-, nice to "see" you. Thanks for the response, hope classes are going well. I guess I have to call RCN, our cable provider. I know TWC isn't great -- it has been SO Atlanta-centric these last few days. Would like to know about flooding elsewhere!

Off to sit on hold w/RCN. Take care all.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Personally, I think the odd jet stream patterns have played more of a role in the shear department this season, not the El Nino.
I don't know if any of you all have had the flu yet but, wow has it knocked me for a loop...I have been sick since last Friday. High fever and chest congestion.
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Quoting AwakeInMaryland:
Hello out there and good morning,

I just lost The Weather Channel. Anyone else? Not sure whether it's our cable provider or trouble in Atlanta, yet. Says "temporarily off air" & "please check back later." I hate calling the service provider...

TWC is on here --Comcast South Dade/FL
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Yikes, appears I killed the blog. Oh, the Guilt.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
I say, El What ? 2009 so far is a very mild Nino.

1997:


2009:







This is a CP Warming
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Quoting AwakeInMaryland:
Hello out there and good morning,

I just lost The Weather Channel. Anyone else? Not sure whether it's our cable provider or trouble in Atlanta, yet. Says "temporarily off air" & "please check back later." I hate calling the service provider...


good morning, I have the weather channel, and it works fine here
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8418
Hello out there and good morning,

I just lost The Weather Channel. Anyone else? Not sure whether it's our cable provider or trouble in Atlanta, yet. Says "temporarily off air" & "please check back later." I hate calling the service provider...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tazmanian:
i give up


its a EL Nino year its NOT like last year when we did not have EL Nino all so in EL Nino years the carribean is shut down by OCT and the carribean have been shut down all season


Taz, all due respect but, this El Nino is very weak. We've experienced 0 of the traditional effects of El Nino in SFL this summer. There haven't been any disturbances in the Caribbean thus far because they have all been re-curving.
Quoting IKE:


This is like watching paint dry. Fortunately I have to go try and make a dollar.

L8R.


Yep your right IKE .......Have a good one Buddy!.....Also i will eat your black bird i had reserved for ya.....LOL
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812. IKE
Quoting TampaSpin:


Year of the Shear


This is like watching paint dry. Fortunately I have to go try and make a dollar.

L8R.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37890
Quoting IKE:
Look at the westerly shear throughout the Caribbean and ATL....



Year of the Shear
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810. IKE
Look at the westerly shear throughout the Caribbean and ATL....no wonder the NHC says no development in the next 48 hours...
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37890
Quoting StormW:
Talk about a change!



Quite a drop, may get more disturbances in about 10 days. Good thing that drop didn't occur during the peak.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3992
well im out peace
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ECOH ecoh ecoh
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i give up


its a EL Nino year its NOT like last year when we did not have EL Nino all so in EL Nino years the carribean is shut down by OCT and the carribean have been shut down all season
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ECOH ecoh ecoh
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wow! i feel lonely it so quiet
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wow it's reaaaaaly quiet
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lol... thanks
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Quoting Canekid98:
do u guys think a TC can form in the carribean with this dissturbance?


Anything is possible down there this time of year

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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

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